Continuing Action: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what the continuous aspect is? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on progressive tenses, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is the progressive aspect?

There are many different tenses and aspects of a verb that are considered to be continuing action, also known as the progressive tense or continuous tense:

  • Past progressive tense
  • Past continuous tense
  • Present progressive tense
  • Present continuous tense
  • Present perfect continuous tense
  • Future progressive tense
  • Future continuous tense

Different tenses, also known as the different aspects of a verb, are used to discuss actions in different periods of time or conditions throughout the flow of time. Some tenses use the present participle or past participle which often ends in ed. Some tenses use helping verbs. Most people are familiar with the simple tenses: simple past tense, simple present tense, and simple future tense. These can be used to discuss simple actions or habits.

The continuous tenses, however, show action that is in progress. This can be past action or past events, current action, or a future event or future action. Often, time words are used to show when the action happened. We can use progressive verb tenses to create much more interesting sentences in English grammar.

What are examples of the progressive tense?

See if you can identify the progressive verb in the examples from Your Dictionary!

  • I was wondering how I did on my exam. The long forms of the questions were confusing. 
  • I was making dinner when he arrived at my house this evening.
  • I was thinking of the progressive aspect of the ad from the 1980s.
  • I was wondering if you could walk the dog for me this evening.
  • I was forever worrying if I would make the team.
  • We are visiting the museum in the afternoon.
  • I was making dinner when he arrived at my house this evening.
  • He is talking to his friend.
  • By 3019, we will be driving spaceships.
  • We were sitting outside while the planes were flying overhead.
  • We were acting as part of the hostile work environment that was not in accordance with the Supreme Court’s 2000e-5 equal employment opportunity commission when the employee reported the described actions.
  • You were asking what pronoun they used, but they would not answer the rest of your question. 
  • I was trying to think of a spelling tip to help me remember the last letter at the end of a sentence for my exam.
  • What were you doing when the alarm went off last night?
  • I was having a great conversation with him when his ex-girlfriend interrupted it.
  • She was wondering if you could babysit after school today.
  • Are they listening to the teacher?
  • He was waiting at home all day when she sent him the message.
  • I was not sleeping when you got home late last night.I was having a great conversation with him when his ex-girlfriend interrupted it.
  • I was listening to my music, so I didn’t hear the phone ring.
  • He is not standing.
  • I thought we were planning to go at the present time, but I now realize I misread the first part and second part of your message.
  • I was wondering if you could open the door.
  • I was going to spend the afternoon at the mall but decided to stay home instead.
  • We will not be driving spaceships in 3019.
  • Is she laughing?
  • Were you calling me when I emailed you this afternoon?
  • Her mother is forever misplacing her keys.
  •  Morgan was doing her homework when she realized her ID was missing.
  • Marc is making pizza now.
  • You are not watching the movie.
  • The baby is sleeping in his crib.
  • Our neighbor was always telling us funny stories about his daughter.
  • She was playing the piano while Ann was singing on stage.
  • Today, most people are using text messages instead of the phone.
  • In an hour, we will be flying over the Atlantic.
  • The native speakers were thinking about how the rest of the sentence was formed. 
  • I am going to slide you an e-mail tomorrow. 
  • I was having a terrifying dream when the alarm clock went off at six o’clock this morning.
  • They are eating lunch right now.
  • I am not going to the meeting after work.
  • Are you going?
  • Will we be flying over the Atlantic soon?
  • We are leaving for the beach tomorrow morning.
  • Will Joanne be coming home for the holidays?
  • The stocks are dropping constantly due to the economy.
  • Shopping online is growing in popularity nowadays.
  • In two months, I will be eating a plant-based diet.
  • While we were playing tennis, it started to rain.
  • While she was sleeping, someone took her phone.
  • Anthony is sitting in the chair.
  • Will you be eating a plant-based diet in two months?
  • He was going to pack a ham sandwich for lunch but he decided to make a peanut butter and jelly instead.
  • Is John playing football today?
  • In a year, he will be asking for forgiveness.
  • She is crying.
  • Rose is reading a book.
  • She was always taking all my ideas.
  • By then, we will be practicing yoga every morning.
  • The kids are arriving at six o’clock.
  • What was she doing this time yesterday?
  • The guests are wondering if the grammarians will quiz them on their knowledge all night. The short questions are getting old.
  • The amusement park will be increasing ticket prices later this year.
  • We were wondering if she was able to meet us at noon.
  • I was listening to my music, so I didn’t hear the phone ring.
  • The dark was giving a loud bark tonight when Tim walked by.
  • Frances is talking on the phone at the moment.

Overall, the progressive aspect describes continuous action, or actions that are in progress.


  1. Future Progressive | Your Dictionary
  2. Present Continuous Tense Examples | Your Dictionary 
  3. Past Continuous | Your Dictionary